Windows Mixed Reality Headsets

Written by Natalie Afshar

This previous blog post about Windows Mixed reality involved lots of products that are free, and if you want to give your students a completely immersive world, a Mixed Reality headset, there is a broad ecosystem of options available in the mixed reality space, at various price points.

Mid-Range: Lenovo and Dell

A mid-range option is the Windows Mixed Reality head mounted display’s from Lenovo, Dell, Acer, HP and Samsung. They are occluded, like the other tethered head sets from Vive and Oculus i.e. they have a screen that you cannot see through, and they also feature two sensors on the front of the device, rendering it a mixed reality tool. These sensors provide you with inside out tracking, meaning that the device tracks itself so you don’t need to set up external power sources, or extra setup or sensors. You plug two cables into your computer  turn on motion controllers and you’re ready to go. There are no age recommendations for these devices.

Premium: Microsoft HoloLens

The Microsoft HoloLens Device is a see-through, fully untethered device – which means it doesn’t have any cables, or need to be plugged into a computer. It projects digital objects the real world and maps the space you’re in, in real time, allowing shared experiences and instantaneous interactions with others wearing the HoloLens headset. HoloLens doesn’t have a screen – which means that you are looking through a piece of transparent glass and everything at that point is projected into the real world. It must be noted that Microsoft recommends usage of the HoloLens for children aged 13 and above. If you want more information about developing in Microsoft HoloLens, here is a great selection of videos.

There are lots of application for HoloLens that are being used in an educational space, such as LifeLiQe which engages students with interactive 3D models, HoloStudy, HoloAnatomy which teaches anatomy, Titan which is an exploration of Saturn’s moon, and MyLab which is an interactive periodic table.

So how do they fit together?

Both the HoloLens and Mixed Reality headsets from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung are part of the same Windows Mixed Reality platform. Apps available on SteamVR are interchangeable from one platform to another.

There are also some great educational apps available on Windows Mixed Reality. Read more about it here.

You can also play Minecraft in VR which builds on the existing educational experiences with Minecraft.

Activity idea for teachers

Get students to create or build something within Minecraft, then extract it from Minecraft and into Mixed Reality viewer. You can then overlay it in the real world through the web-cam of any device with the latest Windows10 Fall Creators update.  Students can see in 3D what they have created, without needing a headset. Read more about Minecraft in Mixed Reality here.

What kind of Mixed Reality apps run on a Windows Mixed Reality headset?

The Windows Mixed Reality platform has its own set of games and apps, and you can also run SteamVR experiences through the Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR app. This lets you access any of the games and apps from Oculus Rift or HTC Vive that run on SteamVR.  Read more here.

How do you set it up?

It’s actually quite easy to set up. If you already have the Fall Creator’s update on your PC, you can set up any of the Mixed Reality headsets in about 10 minutes.

If you’re not sure if you already have the Fall Creators update, you can check your device to see which version of Windows 10 you’re on here.

Windows Mixed Reality just requires a Windows 10 compatible PC and headset, plus the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, then you download an app from the app store. While the requirements for PC’s needed might vary, you can see some compatible PC’s here.

You can read more about the experiences available here.

And also you can rea more about the apps and content here.

As an IT administrator, you will need to ensure that all the PCs have the Windows 10 Fall creators update. You can then use the readily available Windows 10 apps such as Mixed Reality Viewer and Remix 3D on any device that has that Windows 10 fall creators update, and this will work on a variety of different devices, both new and old. If you want to use a mixed reality headset device, you will need compatible PC’s which can be found at the above link.

Microsoft believes the need to create has never been more important. The Windows ecosystem fosters incredible innovation, allowing users to be active creators, experimenting, learning and exploring. These tools make it easier to understand abstract concepts that are difficult to imagine in 3D – such a complex mathematical shapes and vectors or human anatomy, and are useful in a range of educational settings and for a range of age levels.

Read more about the creators update here.


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